You will probably agree with me that the guys over at Catalyst are a bunch of productive super-geeks. Last week they released the Genesis Extender, a plugin that makes it really easy to customize any Genesis child theme.
And last summer, they brought Dynamik, a highly customizable child theme of their flagship the Catalyst Framework, to Genesis Framework. This Dynamik Website Builder allows you to create your own custom Genesis child theme. All you have to do is point-and-click – no coding needed.
In earlier posts, I have already explored the possibilities of Catalyst, Genesis, the Dynamik Website Builder (DWB) as well as the Genesis Extender. Several of you have asked me how Catalyst with Dynamik compares to the Dynamik Website Builder, and which of the two I would recommend. Well, read on.
In order to answer the questions above, I used the latest versions of the frameworks (Catalyst v1.5.3 and Genesis v1.8.2), as well as of the child themes (Dynamik v1.1 and Dynamik Website Builder v1.0.2) for this comparison.
We will start our tour with by examining the environments. Then we compare the design options, the more advanced options and the pricing of course. At the end I will share my personal thoughts with you.
A Comparison of the Environments
The environment of the Dynamik child theme is completely controlled by Catalyst. This means that all functions are available within the Catalyst panel:
- Core Options
- Dynamik Options
- Advanced Options
The necessary settings regarding the Dynamik Website Builder are partly controlled by Genesis and partly by the Dynamik Website Builder itself:
- Genesis Theme Settings
- Genesis SEO Settings
- Dynamik Settings
- Dynamik Design
- Dynamik Custom
Is that a problem? No not really. It is simply a consequence of the fact that the Dynamik Website Builder has to adapt itself to the Genesis Framework from StudioPress.
In case of support, users of the Dynamik Builder need to consider where to turn to; to Catalyst or to StudioPress. Both offer very responsive forums, equipped by skilled support staff, so I do not expect any problems in that field either.
Catalyst as well as Genesis allows you to install a third-party plugin for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Both frameworks will disable all native SEO options in favor of this third party plugin as soon as you activate it.
In addition, Catalyst offers a SEO Kill Switch which lets you disable all of the incorporated SEO functions manually.
A Comparison of the Design Options
The most convenient way to compare the design options of the two systems is by putting their features next to each other in a table:
|Catalyst/Dynamik||Dynamik Website Builder|
n/a = not available
As you can see, Dynamik for Catalyst and Genesis offer almost the same design options. There are only a few discrepancies. Let us have a closer look at those.
Extras of the Catalyst/Dynamik Duo
Catalyst offers Hide Options for pages and categories. These are not available with the Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis. By adding some – easy to understand – code in the text box at the Hide Options, you are able to prevent certain page elements from being displayed. In fact, what you do here is applying the CSS Display property; display: none.
In order to achieve the same with Genesis, you would need to apply a custom CSS class to a page or a post, and compose the CSS manually, while Catalyst will constructs the necessary CSS rules for you. An alternative route incorporated in the DWB is by applying custom conditionals.
An advantage of Dynamik over DWB, that is not directly obvious from the list above, is the number of available wrap structures. Where the Dynamik Website Builder offers two options – a fixed and a fluid design – Dynamik for Catalyst offers eight options, since you can mix and match fixed and fluid wraps for headers and footers.
Extras of the Dynamik Website Builder
The Header Nav is an option available for Genesis child themes through the Header Right widget area of the framework. In order to add a header navigation, you simply add the Custom Menu widget to this area and select one of your WordPress menus (Appearance >> Menus) from the drop down menu.
With the Taxonomy (Tax) settings, you can style the headings, content – including margins and paddings – of index pages like categories, tags, authors, and archives.
A Comparison of the Advanced Options
|Catalyst/Dynamik||Dynamik Website Builder|
Custom Widget Areas
Custom Hook Boxes
n/a = not available
With Catalyst/Dynamik you can create additional Custom Layouts. That seems like an advantage of Dynamik over DWB, however, where the Genesis-based DWB offers six layouts by default, Catalyst offers only three – with the possibility to create additional page layouts. So, I would say this is a tie – or otherwise; too close to call.
The Custom Options of the DWB includes a text box where you can enter custom PHP code. There are a lot of code snippets for Genesis child themes available on the web and this box allows you to enter and apply such precooked code.
What the Dynamik Website Builder does offer, and the Catalyst/Dynamik duo does not, is the ability to create Conditionals which you can apply in combination with widget areas and Hook Boxes. Conditionals allow you to construct more intelligent page layouts, layouts that only will appear when the specified condition is met.
When it comes to CSS, Dynamik as well as the Dynamik Website Builder offer the same tools to help you style your website: a Custom CSS box, the CSS Builder, and last – but certainly not least – the Front-end CSS Builder.
A Comparison of the Plans
The Dynamik child theme comes bundled with the Catalyst Framework which is yours for $127.
So we are talking about a price difference of $9.95, less than 10 bucks. That is not much certainly not because in both situations you obtain a lifetime license, product updates, and support.
Some Final Thoughts
Personally, I think the most relevant differences between Dynamik and the Dynamik Website Builder are the wrap structures and the conditionals.
Although both solutions supply you with the possibility of boxed and stretched website designs, with Catalyst you get a few more options. For example, you can mix and match a fixed header with fluid footer or vice versa.
The conditionals of the Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis allow you to create more intelligent page layouts; for example, a widget area that should only appear on certain pages.
The Dynamik Website Builder is build on top of the Genesis Framework. I guess that is another advantage in favor of the DWB. There are dozens of Genesis child themes available. StudioPress alone offers 45+ child themes which are only $24.95 each.
With Catalyst as well as with the Dynamik Website Builder for Genesis, you can build any website you like. Both are excellent products.
When you do not think you will ever want to use a Genesis child theme, go with Catalyst.
If you cannot make up your mind, but you need to make a decision? Pick the Dynamik Website Builder.